You want to see a truly deep delusion? I give you “Elizabeth Holmes Is a Visionary, and We Need More Like Her“. It’s an attempt to salvage the reputation of Elizabeth Holmes, who bilked investors to build a blood-testing machine that didn’t work, by complaining about John Carreyrou’s book, Bad Blood. Along the way, though, you get a look into the brain of an entrepreneur. It’s not pretty.
First thing he has to do is discredit the whole notion of “expertise”.
Phyllis Gardner, a professor at Stanford’s medical school, was one of those skeptical doctors interviewed by Carreyrou. Not only did she view Holmes’s original idea (testing blood via a skin patch) as not “remotely feasible,” she broadly dismissed Holmes since the Stanford dropout “had no medical or scientific training to speak of.”
This is correct. Holmes was trying to build a medical device that she imagined in the absence of actual knowledge about how it would work. I would like to imagine a perpetual motion machine. That does not mean that my enthusiasm makes it a good idea. But now the author is going to argue that experts have been wrong before, so let’s discount the importance of expertise in medical technology.
Age and experience elicited a chuckle from this reader in consideration of how wrong the gray and surely eminent “experts” have been for so long about among other things: nutrition (see decades of worship of the “four food groups,” along with last week’s admission that red meat may not be so bad after all…),
A lot of our nutritional information has been tainted by the intervention of corporate/capitalist meddling for profit. Even if I grant him that experts sometimes screw up, though, it doesn’t mean expertise is useless.
foreign policy (see U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Iraq Afghanistan),
Argument from historical clusterfucks. Is there a latin term for that? Also, does anyone think that war-mongering American presidents are an example of expertise?
not to mention the 364 prominent economists who signed a letter to the Financial Times in 1981 stressing how Margaret Thatcher’s fiscal policies of reduced spending and privatization would be “disastrous.”
But Margaret Thatcher’s (and Ronald Reagan’s) fiscal policies were disastrous! They led to our current mess and only benefited the rich…oh. I guess from the author’s perspective that wasn’t disastrous at all.
However, we can now take it as given that the author acknowledges that Elizabeth Holmes had no scientific or medical qualifications — he just thinks such things are unimportant.
Attempts to discredit Holmes for not being a doctor, and for not having completed her studies at Stanford, are the stuff of very small minds. Few will admit it, but degrees are credentials that confirm someone learned yesterday’s news very well, or passably well in many instances. Crucial here is that yesterday people were still dying of all sorts of diseases for which there aren’t yet cures, and for which there isn’t yet technology that detects those diseases ahead of time so that they can perhaps be addressed in pre-emptive fashion. Precisely because “lives are at stake” we want the most creative minds of all working tirelessly to elongate life, and the creative frequently don’t have time for school.
Translation: an education is “yesterday’s news”. Forget about learning the foundations of science, fuck that “standing on the shoulders of giants” nonsense, all you need is creativity! I am inspired! I’m going to go weld something. I never had any training in it, but I have imagination! Then I’m going to rip out all the plumbing and wiring in my house and redo it better, faster, more efficiently! My wife is going to be so surprised.
This guy is a dangerous idiot. He goes on to argue that real business leaders just need enthusiasm and confidence to persuade investors to pour money into your dream so you can just keep on chasing it. If you’re not confident, the investors will abandon you, and Holmes was great because she was so confident.
“Confidence” is the key word in “con man”, you know.
Seemingly forgotten by the eternally smug is that per serial business founder and investor Carl Schramm, capitalistic progress is “messy,” and it’s the stuff of individuals willing to energetically pursue that which is roundly rejected by the existing order. Crucial is that these people are very necessary. This is particularly true in the healthcare space when it’s remembered just how many diseases continue to end lives way too quickly. In short, the world once again needs many more people like Elizabeth Holmes, not fewer. It’s time to end the witch hunts meant to quiet the minds and actions of those who want to force the change without which there is no progress.
Disease is devastating and cuts life short, therefore it’s more important than ever to empower uninformed, poorly educated, but confident people to get rich on promises. Got it.
Oh, and Holmes is the victim of a “witch hunt”, perhaps the most overused phrase in the lexicon of professional abusers. No, she was just a fraud.